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Carter's Return Means Oft-Injured LB Corps Is At Full Strength

IRVING, Texas – It appears the Cowboys linebacker corps is at full health once more – or as close as it can get to full health this season.

Technically speaking, Sean Lee remains on injured reserve and is unavailable until 2015. But with Bruce Carter's return to practice Thursday, all the linebackers on the Cowboys' active roster are once again available.

"I did all the drills today, special teams – I did everything," Carter said. "I think as the week goes on, and me running around and be able to open up a little bit more each day. I figure I'll be fine for Monday night."

Carter has been missing for four weeks since he strained his quad in the Week 4 win against New Orleans. He missed three games while he convalesced, prompting the Cowboys to mix and match at the strong side linebacker spot.

Photos from Thursday's practice at Valley Ranch.

It doesn't look like that will be the case when the Cowboys kick off against Washington on Monday night. As usual with this team, though, Carter was cautious with the assessment of his progress this week. He was limited on Thursday – the first practice of this week's game preparation.

"I'm going to be ready to play. I'm going to listen to my body and see how the week goes," he said. "Today it felt great, and I was able to move around and burst and do those sort of things. It just felt good to hit somebody else, so we'll see how the week goes."

This will mark rare territory for the Cowboys' linebackers this season, assuming the trio of Carter, Justin Durant and Rolando McClain are all available – which they should be. The Cowboys have been without at least one of their primary linebackers for the vast majority of the season.

Durant left the Week 1 loss to San Francisco with a groin problem, and he missed both Week 2 and Week 3 while he recovered. Durant also injured his groin, in Week 2, and he sat out of Week 3, as well. The full trio was finally healthy for Week 4, which is when Carter injured the quad.

Despite that, Carter said the lack of playing time shouldn't hurt the trio, who have a combined 13 years of experience.

"With all three of us, we've played a lot, and so we've got a lot of experience. We know what we're supposed to do," Carter said. "I think it'll be a great thing once it's all on one page and we're able to go out there and showcase it. I think it'll be a good thing Monday night with all three of us back."[embeddedad0]

Carter said the biggest thing is maintaining his confidence from Week 1 to Week 4, when he was among the team leaders in tackles on the way to a 3-1 start. Even with three weeks' worth of absences, Carter is still the Cowboys' No. 4 tackler with 29 on the season, according to the coaches' film.

"My confidence was real high, and the big thing for me is I was just out there having fun," he said. "So I'm going to get back to doing that leading right off. I've just got to make sure my quad is full strength and I'll be good to go."

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